Mary A. Hamblin interview with Tales of Cape Cod, July 24, 1978.
Born in 1899, Mrs. Hamblin tells of her maternal grandfather Levi Lincoln Baxter being the ship captain of the clipper ship the Starlight. Captain Baxter sailed to China. Her father was the chief engineer on the lightship the Great Island Shoals off of Nantucket. He would board the ship in November and not return home until the following April. Her father was paid about $100.00 a month. She describes the ship and what life was like on a stationary ship. Mail and food would be delivered by fisherman. Her father never learned how to swim. She recalls visiting the ship once seeing how small the staterooms were but remembering a large room full of donated library books from the New Bedford Public Library. She also tells of harrowing events her father went through while on the ship. She remembers before her father left for the lightship in the Fall, he would rake banks of seaweed up against the house for insulation from the cold. Her chores as a child were washing dishes, making beds and cleaning out chamber pots. The family did not have a horse and wagon and twice a year her father would rent a horse and surrey in South Yarmouth and take the family shopping in Hyannis.
Her mother made all her clothes from cloth she purchased at Kelly’s dry goods store in South Yarmouth. As a young girl, Mrs. Hamblin worked at Kelly’s from 8:30 – 6:00, six days a week and was paid $9.00 per week. She recalled a funny story of a man trying to buy under drawers. Mrs. Hamblin saved her earnings at the store and spent them on piano lessons from Miss. Baker in South Yarmouth. Mrs. Hamblin got a job as the pianist at silent movie theater in South Yarmouth. There were two movies each 90 minutes long with a 30 minute intermission. She was paid 75 cents a movie and the music was all ad lib. She describes her elementary educational experiences and also describes her experience at the Normal School in Hyannis which she attended for two years. Her first teaching job was in Quincy. She also taught in New Jersey. In 1926 she came back to the Cape to get married.